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The Monkey Hustle
The Monkey Hustle
Actors: Yaphet Kotto, Kirk Calloway, Thomas Carter, Donn C. Harper, Lynn Caridine
Director: Arthur Marks
Genres: Comedy, Drama, African American Cinema
PG     2004     1hr 30min

From the director of Friday Foster and J. D.'s Revenge comes a free-wheelin fast-dealin look at life in the ghettoChicago style. Filled with comedy, fantasy and a cast of unforgettable characters, The Monkey Hustle is a ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Yaphet Kotto, Kirk Calloway, Thomas Carter, Donn C. Harper, Lynn Caridine
Director: Arthur Marks
Creators: Jack L. Richards, Arthur Marks, Art Seid, Robert E. Schultz, Charles Eric Johnson, Odie Hawkins
Genres: Comedy, Drama, African American Cinema
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Drama, African American Cinema
Studio: MGM
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 03/09/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

"When I send you brothers out into the world of flimflam, sc
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 09/19/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I'm not exactly sure what The Monkey Hu$tle (1976) refers to (even after watching the film last night), but according to one of the tag lines, `It ain't legal an it sure ain't safe...but it do seem worthwhile!', so there you go. Co-produced and directed by Arthur Marks (Detroit 9000, Linda Lovelace for President, Friday Foster), the film features Yaphet Kotto (Live and Let Die, Alien), Randy Brooks (Colors), Thomas Carter ("The White Shadow"), Donn C. Harper (Mimic 2), and Rosalind Cash (The Omega Man, Uptown Saturday Night). Also appearing is Debbi Morgan (Mandingo), Fuddle Bagley (J.D.'s Revenge), Kirk Calloway (Weekend Pass), Steven Williams (The Blues Brothers, "The X Files"), and Rudy Ray Moore (The Human Tornado, Disco Godfather), probably best known for his Dolemite character from the 1975 film of the same name (if you haven't seen it, it's about one of the cheapest, funniest blaxploitation features ever).

As the film begins we see Yaphet Kotto, playing the character Big Daddy Foxx, a hustler of sorts, driving around the south side of Chicago in a blue Sanford and Son pickup truck with white, shag interior, stopping at an abandoned building which, apparently, he uses as an office/storage facility for his ill-gotten goods. Soon after a couple of young bloods named Player (Carter) and Tiny (Harper) make the scene, looking to hook up with Foxx so that they may `get over', which I think means getting paid (the phrase is used extensively in the film, especially by those who have very little in the way of green). Anyway, after a scam at the train station Player and Tiny hook up with Win (Brooks), a drummer, who got shorted on a gig or something, and now has returned home to find not only his friends but also his little brother Baby `D (Calloway) have taken up with Foxx, much to his disproval. Not only that, but his girlfriend Vi (Morgan), whose mother Sweet Mama (Cash) runs a soul food restaurant, has taken up with another due to his negligence in writing her while he was, the life of a musician sure is difficult. From here a bunch of stuff happens, including more scams, but the main plot seems to be how the city is planning to tear up the neighborhood to lay down a new expressway, and everyone's trying to come together to avert loosing their homes. Glitterin' Goldie (Moore), another hustler (who seems to have a thing for gold lamay jumpsuits), makes the scene, there's a catfight, Foxx hooks up with Sweet Mama, Win tries to patch things up with Vi by sneaking into her bedroom in the middle of the night, Player and Tiny take revenge on a dude who messed over Win, Win's skins (drums) get trashed in retaliation, more scams occur, there's some roller disco action, Baby `D breaks out on his own, and Win catches a beat down along with having to come up with some bread to get some new skins so that he may play in the giant block party set up to promote killing the proposed expressway project.

The film, released by American International Pictures (AIP for short), is pretty goofy in general, full of exaggerated performances, huge Afros, some of the most horrendous 1970s denim fashions I've ever seen, along with scads of dialogue I could barely understand, including the following...

`She was a booger bear, but she had educated lips and a body for days.'

As best as I can tell the character makes a derogatory statement about a woman, but then follows up with mention of her better qualities.

Here's another baffling line...

`Chumped by a broke stacked dog, the wino's reject.'

I won't even attempt to decipher that one...and here's one more...

`The closer the bone, the sweeter the meat.'

This was another line used by a character talking about a woman, but since I neglected to take Jive 101 in school, I'm unsure the intent behind the statement (I think it was meant as flattery, but I'm not positive).

The story's a real mish mash, focusing on various go nowhere minor plots from time to time, but it's mostly made up of various strangely garbed characters perpetrating different kinds of scams, cons, and flimflams, always trying to `get over' and asking each other if they can `dig it'. I didn't really have a favorite scene from the film, but there was one part that was kind of funny in that after Player and Tiny beat up a dude in getting revenge for their friend Win, Win's place, along with his drums, gets trashed in retaliation and someone scrawled on the wall the following, `You been warned succa'...succa? Hooked on phonics worked for me I guess...there was one aspect of the film I really liked and that was all the shots of Chicago, but then again I'm kind of partial to films that feature the Windy City seeing as how I've spent most of my life around the place. As far as the performances, I mentioned earlier they were exaggerated (and I wasn't kidding), and sometimes it's kind of funny but it does wear a little thin after a while, given how little substance there seems to be within the actual characters. Most tend to come off as silly caricatures, ones common within the blaxploitation genre. All in all not a completely rotten film, but one that could have used a lot more soul.

The picture, presented in fullscreen format, modified to fit your TV, does look very clean. I would have preferred a widescreen, unaltered format, but oh far as the Dolby Digital mono audio I had no complaints. The only extras included are a theatrical trailer for the film and subtitles in English, French, and Spanish...I have to say, I was especially thankful for the English subtitles as otherwise I would have had to spend an extraordinary amount of effort trying to discern what some of the characters were actually saying.


By the way, Rudy Ray Moore is displayed prominently on the DVD cover artwork, most likely due to his cult status in the video market stemming from his Dolemite films, but he has a relatively small part in the film, one that includes about a total of ten minutes of screen time.
A Heckuva Guilty Pleasure
Mike Harmon | Bloomington, Minnesota United States | 07/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Gotta monkey hustle goin', gotta hustle!" This is a day of celebration as MONKEY HUSTLE, one of my favorite long-out-of-print blaxploitation films has finally been rereleased! Rudy Ray Moore turns in another flamboyant, hilariously over the top performance and Yaphet Kotto's never again looked like he's having so much fun. This is by no means a great or well-made film, but you can't say it's not entertaining. You go out and buy yourself a copy, and I'm gonna keep on keepin' on...can ya dig it?"
Monkey Hustle
bmwfuz | Philly, PA | 05/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Excellent movie. The fashion and lingo alone are reasons to watch."
bmwfuz | 08/15/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"My mom took me to see this movie when it first came out. I wasthinking about it and wanted to see if I could purchase it. Hopefullythe studio will restock and start selling it again."